© 2017 by PALABRA FLAMENCO 

ABOUT

"Powerful and primal exaltations of people who refuse to be cowed."

- Janis La Couvee, Theatre Reviewer

"There's virtuosity to burn ... Let it wash over you."

- The Georgia Straight

"Passionate and desolate ... A gift to behold!"

- Tony Carter, Showbill Canada

"I promise you beauty and intensity and artistry of the highest calibre."

- Anne-Marie Turza, author of The Quiet

"Four fantastically talented people have created a show that is greater than the sum of its parts."

- Tony Carter, Showbill Canada

Palabra Flamenco, in its entirety, is artistic director and dancer Denise Yeo, producer and poet Garth Martens, singer Veronica Maguire, and guitarist Gareth Owen.

The phrase la palabra en el tiempo is a touchstone for us, from a poem by Antonio Machado, poet, philosopher, and school teacher from Andalucia, Spain. The phrase is translated: “the word in time,” “human language in which we feel time passing,” or “words that pick up the energy of time,” or “words that take their place, like drumbeats, in time already counted.”

Says Antonio Machado, “Form your letters slowly and well: making things well is more important than making them.” 

In our performances, singer, poet, storyteller, guitarist, and dancer attempt their letras with hope they may be common earthen jugs beside the stream. 

Flamenco is inherently improvisational. Its signature components are guitar, dance, and poetry as song. One of Palabra Flamenco's unique features is the use of English rather than Spanish, spoken and not sung.

 

Palabra Flamenco reminds us what flamenco can mean in this time and place. We hope to excavate human shadow. That's a long shadow. It's tailored to every one of us, but it also belongs to villages and nations. Big work there. Our performances also include joy, mockery, humour, sunlight: conscious and celebrated tools to reclaim ourselves whole and human.

Denise Yeo | Dancer, Storyteller & Artistic Director

 

Denise Yeo is a professional flamenco dance soloist and palmera. In 2017, she co-founded Palabra Flamenco as its artistic director and principal dancer — joining traditional flamenco with English-language poetry and storytelling. Their show La Palabra en el Tiempo toured the Victoria Flamenco Festival, Victoria Fringe Festival, Vancouver Fringe Festival, and Victoria Festival of Authors. She later performed as a soloist for Dark Sounds, a unique collaboration with acclaimed poet Jan Zwicky, guitarist Gareth Owen, and poet Garth Martens. Fox Woman is Yeo's second show as artistic director. As principal dancer and storyteller, she performs the roles of Fox Woman and the Hunter, with her husband, guitarist Gareth Owen, accompanying her. This summer, Fox Woman tours the Toronto Fringe Festival and Winnipeg Fringe Festival, with a finale in Victoria.

 

As a soloist, Yeo performs in tablaos across Canada. She has performed in large-scale flamenco productions Recuerdos and Pasajes for Alma de España Flamenco Dance Company. In North America, Denise has trained with award-winning choreographers Veronica Maguire, Carmen Romero, and Oscar Nieto. She has also trained with international flamenco artists, including Concha Jareño, Domingo Ortega, Maria Bermúdez, Inmaculada Ortega, Antonio El Farru, Carmen Herrera, Ana María Lopez, and more.


Gareth Owen | Guitarrist

Gareth Owen is a world-class flamenco guitarist who has recorded two albums, Gareth Owen Flamenco Guitar and El Cobre, with a third in production. He has performed at the Calgary International Flamenco Festival, Toronto International Flamenco Festival, Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, and Dawson City Music Festival, with tablao performances in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. As principal guitarist for Palabra Flamenco, he toured the Victoria Flamenco Festival, Victoria Fringe Festival, Vancouver Fringe Festival, and Victoria Festival of Authors for their show La Palabra en el Tiempo. For Dark Sounds, he collaborated with acclaimed poet Jan Zwicky, dancer Denise Yeo, and poet Garth Martens. His mother is award-winning choreographer Veronica Maguire and his late father is renowned flamenco guitarist Harry Owen. He lives with his wife, dancer Denise Yeo, in Victoria.

           

He has shared the stage with international flamenco guitarists Jesus Álvarez and Gaspar Rodriguez Roman, and accompanied international artists Coral de los Reyes, Miguel Rosendo, Luis Vargas “El Mono”, María Bermúdez, Domingo Ortega, Luis de la Tota, Gema Moneo, Ricardo Lopez, Emilio Ochando, Cristina Hall, and Vicente Griego, among others. His Canadian collaborators include Oscar Nieto, Kasandra Lea “La China”, Gerardo Alcalá, and Carmen Romero.


Veronica Maguire | Singer

Dancer, choreographer, and singer Veronica Maguire is the artistic director and co-founder of Alma de España Flamenco Dance Company and School, established in 1991 in Victoria. In a career spanning over forty years she has taught and inspired many students, some of whom have gone on to cultivate their own professional careers. Veronica has shared the stage in Canada with Spanish international flamenco artists María Bermúdez, Domingo Ortega, Jesus Álvarez, Coral de los Reyes, Miguel Rosendo, Luis de la Tota, Antonio de Jerez, Inmaculada Ortega, Sonia Berbel and Matias Lopez Exposito. North American artists include Oscar Nieto, Gerardo Alcalá, Esmeralda Enrique, Paco Pedrosa “Jiménez Carancha”, Carmen Romero, Chuscales Jose Valle, Vicente Griego, Kasandra “La China”, to name a few. Her longest and dearest artistic partnership was with her late husband and acclaimed guitarist, Harry Owen. Veronica continues to stay connected with her adopted hometown of Jerez de la Frontera in Spain, a touchstone for continued growth and inspiration. As a result she has produced and directed world-class productions in Victoria such as Recuerdos in 2011 and Pasajes in 2014. Veronica has performed in the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, Dawson City Music Festival, Victoria Flamenco Festival, as well as many other major performances throughout Western Canada, including the Dancers for Life Gala as guest artist in a show that featured Karen Kain, Evelyn Hart, and Rex Harrington, and as a featured guest artist with the Victoria Symphony under the baton of Kees Bakels. In 2013, Veronica received a Canada Council grant for Professionals and was chosen by peer assessment to win the prestigious Jacqueline Lemieux Award for her contribution to Dance in Canada.

Garth Martens | Poet

Garth Martens won the 2011 Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. His first book Prologue for the Age of Consequence (House of Anansi Press) was a Finalist for the 2014 Governor General's Literary Award in Poetry. His chapbook Remediation was published by JackPine Press in 2018. His poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Hazlitt, This Magazine, Vallum, Fiddlehead, GrainPrism International, and Best Canadian Poetry in English 2014. In collaboration with Alma de España Flamenco Dance Company, he wrote and performed the libretto for Pasajes, an international production staged in 2014 at the Royal Theatre. Martens has served as Literary Coordinator at Open Space for Open Word: Readings & Ideas, and on the Editorial Board for The Malahat Review. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Flamenco de la Isla Society and on the Steering Committee for the Victoria Flamenco Festival.

"This unique marriage of talents creates an incredible experience—Maguire carries the grief of the world in her voice, Owen seems melded to his guitar, fingers travelling intimately over the strings, Martens declaims like the prophets of old—stern warnings and jeremiads, potent messages—Yeo is a spitfire, uncontainable in her passionate delivery, staccato feet blurring in ferocious movement."

- Janis La Couvee, Arts Reviewer

"This [show] is taken to another level entirely by the air of authenticity and experience that Veronica Maguire brings to the stage with every word and every movement."

- Tony Carter, Showbill Canada

"It's like they harness gravity, and you don't know if you're floating or sinking as you watch them. After I watched them perform for the first time, I wanted to tell them how much I loved the show, and the only honest thing I could do was to shake my head and swear."

- Anne-Marie Turza, author of The Quiet

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